Saturday, July 14, 2007

On America & American Politics

As a non-American, I have no real right to speak on the internal problems of America, but because I am a neighbour to America and I am related to Americans, I am going to speak anyway.

The joys of blogging. Those who should be silent, aren't.

I remember following the primaries leading to the election in 2000, closely watching what was happening state-by-state both in 2000 and in 2004, and I remember two dominant impressions. 1) That Dubya was bad news (I wanted McCain), and 2) that no matter how bad the Republicans were, the Democrats were worse. Better the devil you know, etc.

[Sadly, I feel that G. W. has amply fulfilled my darkest forebodings, and the Democrats are doing their level best to fill me with even more horror than usual. Eight years of a Clinton in the Oval Office are, oh, about eight years too many.]

I approached American politics from the point of view of the civilized barbarian, comfortable in his wattle-and-daub mansion, anxiously watching the antics of the Roman Empire, waiting for the proverbial sword of Damocles to fall... knowing that Rome is the big bully on the block, and just hoping it doesn't notice me.

I never felt that America was a good place, and the patriotism of its citizens was, at best, the triumphant bloodlust of the Roman citizen bleating about how powerful and noble Rome was for conquering other nations. Why would I admire the U.S.? I think of brave Custer, the bloody and unnecessary Civil War, the horrific decimation of the Indian nations... I think of Hollywood and the culture of entertainment. Who could take pride in these?

But ...

Then I had a conversion moment.

Sure, I have met some nice Americans, and been in some lovely locales... but it wasn't until hearing Ron Paul speak on the Republic and the Constitution that I found myself infected with affection, admiration, even love for the States. It had never struck me before this that the United States of America was, at heart, a union of States, not a dictatorship. That the Constitution upholds the power of the State and minimizes (historically) the powers of the President. That the Republic was about the little guy, the farmer, the artisan, the craftsman, the average Joe. That the Republic was about setting up a system that enshrined local government and refuted autocratic structures like that of the monarchy the revolutionaries had fled. That the Republic was about an ideal, a hope... it was about freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom from onerous taxation... freedom for which men were willing to die.

And like that, I realized that the Republic was beautiful - that what I hated was the Empire that the Republic was becoming, the Empire that the founding fathers sought to prevent.

So now I am back to watching politics. And the lineup seems a choice between the unknown, the bad, the worse, the terrible, and Armageddon... and Ron Paul. I hope he gets in, partly because the others represent all that I dislike about the road in which America has been travelling, partly because I can see little difference in their views, but mostly because Paul makes me want to be an American.

- V.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I've been gradually moving in the other direction. Probably I over saturated myself in American politics and ended up with a gag reflex. However, if there is one thing that Americans know how to do, it's politics, likely because there are so many elections in such short time spans that politics never stops.
Personally, I tend to like good speech-makers, not that they necessarily are good policy makers, but they are much more fun for the spectator.
Up until he got into the Democratic leadership race, Barack Obama was one of the best speakers I've heard for clarity, delivery and just being all round easy to listen to, but now his advisors seem to be dulling his edge.
Just before I stopped listening to the news, Fred Thompson got into the Republican race. He really can deliver a speech, although he's not so fast in Q&A as he needs to be. But, then again, he's used to reading from a script.
I didn't know Ron Paul was in the running, followed your link and he sounds like the kind of President I could like, if he makes it.
BTW, ideologically I agree with your assessment of the good, the bad and the ugly.

V & E said...

Good orators are a lot of fun. It is a pleasure to hear something that is well-stitched together.

The problem is that charm, charisma, and sheer oratorical giftedness can overshadow content. I think of Clinton, who could convince that night was day with his charm. I think of Hitler, who could sway a nation with his diabolical orations.

So I tend to search deliberately for policy over prose. As such, Ron Paul's my man any day.

- V.

Stacy said...

A Canadian libertarian? Wow. You're like a fish out of water, huh.

Congrats on the birth of your son!

Many, many years!